February 24, 2007
I don't go out of my way to recommend building your own computer. I do it, but I'm an OCD-addled, pain-loving masochist. You're usually better off buying whatever cut-rate OEM box Dell is hawking at the moment, particularly now that Intel has finally abandoned the awful Pentium 4 CPU series and is back in the saddle with its excellent Core Duo processor. PC parts are so good these days it's difficult to make a bad choice, no matter what you buy.
If you really must build your own computer, sites like Tech Report provide excellent advice in the form of their system guides. However, their guide sets the bar a little too low for my tastes. There are a few baseline requirements for any new computer build that aren't negotiable for me:
- current dual core chip, such as the Core Duo 2 or Athlon 64 X2
- minimum of 2 GB of memory
- modern PCI express video card with 256mb or more of memory, such as the NVIDIA 7600GS, or the ATI Radeon X1650. Both of these cards can be found for about $100. Whatever you do, avoid on-board video, because it's universally crappy. The rule of thumb I use is this: if you're spending significantly less than $100 on your video card, you're making a terrible mistake.
It's not expensive. At today's prices, you're looking at around $800 for a new system based on these parts. Build that up and you've got a machine that can handle anything you throw at it, from cutting-edge games to full resolution high definition video playback. Oh yeah, and it compiles code pretty fast, too. If you're an avid gamer you might possibly want to throw another $50 to $100 at the video card for higher resolutions, but that's about it.
But one of the recommendations I make often gets some unexpected resistance. I believe every new PC build should have two hard drives:
- small 10,000 RPM boot drive
- large 7,200 RPM data/apps/games/media drive
I am a total convert to the Western Digital Raptor series of 10,000 RPM SATA hard drives. Maybe you're skeptical that a hard drive could make that much difference to a computer's performance. Well, I started out as a skeptic, too. But once I sat down and actually used a computer with a 10,000 RPM drive, my opinion did a complete about-face. I was blown away by how responsive and snappy it felt compared to my machine with a 7,200 RPM hard drive. It's a substantial difference that I continue to feel every day in typical use. Don't underestimate the impact of hard drive performance on your everyday use of the computer.
The difference in performance between a 7,200 RPM boot drive and a 10,000 RPM boot drive is not subtle in any way. But don't take my word for it. Surf the benchmarks yourself:
Unfortunately, the Raptors aren't large drives, and they're expensive on a per-megabyte basis. Current pricing is about $140 for the 74 GB model, and $180 for the 150 GB model. But once you factor in the incredible performance, and the idea that your don't need a lot of space on your primary drive because your secondary drive will be the large workhorse storage area, I think it's a completely reasonable tradeoff.
A number of people have expressed concerns that a 10,000 RPM drive will be run hot and noisy. I am a noise fanatic, and I can assure you that this is not the case. According to the StorageReview noise and heat analysis, the Raptor is squarely in the ballpark with its 7,200 RPM peers. I mount all my drives with sorbothane, and I use eggcrate foam on nearby surfaces to further reduce any reflected noise. Once I do this, the Raptor is no noisier than any other 3.5" desktop hard drive I've used.
Setting aside the performance argument for a moment, using two hard drives also provides additional flexibility. Although I cannot recommend RAID 0 on the desktop, there are clear benefits to using two standalone hard drives. You can isolate your essential user data from the operating system by storing it on the larger, secondary drive. This gives you the freedom to blow away your primary OS drive with relative impunity. It's also optimal for virtual machine use, as one drive can be dedicated to OS functions and the other can act exclusively as a virtual disk. There are plenty of usage scenarios where taking advantage of two hard drive spindles can provide a serious performance boost, such as extracting a large archive from one drive to another.
It's gotten to the point now where I won't even consider building a machine without a Raptor as the boot drive. Sure, your computer may have 2 or even 4 gigabytes of memory, but going to disk is inevitable. And every time you go to disk, you'll become thoroughly spoiled by the speed of the Raptor.
You may not know it yet, but you want a 10,000 RPM boot drive, too. In the words of Scott Hanselman: Go on. Treat yourself. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
Actually, Scott's words were: "Go one, treat yourself."
Typos make life fun!
I believe every new PC build should have two hard drives:
small 10,000 RPM boot drive
large 7,200 RPM data/apps/games/media drive
I VERY MUCH DISAGREE! I would never build a machine with those specs. I would only consider building one instead with FOUR (4) hard drives , mirroring the pairs:
(2) small 10,000 RPM boot drive
(2) 7,200 RPM data/apps/games/media drive
As a matter of fact, that's the specs for the last machine I built!
Better change that line to say:
I believe every new PC build should have at least two hard drives:
Personally, I'm holding out for a solid-state hard drive.
Honestly, I'd rather build two cheap computers for the price of your one. : 10,000 RPM drives? Why? So you can boot faster? Why not just run a more reliable OS?
And quoting someone who considers upgrading his entire family to Vista 'spoiling' himself is..... No. Nononononono. Aaahhh. My brain bluescreened.
Spoil yourself by upgrading your entire family to Ubuntu and then changing your cellphone number for a few months. That's what I call tough love.
Really funny that you wrote this:
I rock 2 raptor 10k rpm's in a raid0 for my winxp install.
I could never go back to either a single drive, or anything less then 10k rpm.
Another thing thats interesting to note is I set this up over a year ago and use it almost non-stop.
Never had one chkdsk error or anything a few defrags couldn't sort.
Which software do you guys use to defrag RAID0? Also do you happen to know whether PerfectDisk 8 can do the job?
Interesting article, my only concern is the hassle every time I install an application having to point it to install somewhere else other than "c:\program files"...Is there a setting to set the default to be d:\....?
Totally agree with the 10,000 rpm recommendation. This PC has 2 of them in a RAID stripe, and it boots many times faster than anything else I've ever used. Great for compiles, great for games!
That's all nice, but I would never, ever build a machine without RAID 1. Drives are cheap, data is priceless. Yeah, you can move your My Documents to another drive, but everything else in your home directory then needs regular - and I do mean regular - backup to somewhere else, because as far as I know, you cannot move the whole Users / Documents and Settings to another drive. Plus you should create a system drive image at least once a week, or you will face issues when (not if) your system drive fails. Days of reinstalling and tweaking.
I'm still running a mirror array of 60 GB Seagate Barracuda IV drives... But I also have an 80 GB scratch/temporary drive.
I couldnt agree more with the choice of the Raptors. I have a (now aging) 2.8 P4, which has kept up very well thanks to a pair of the 36gig raptors in Raid0. (Yes i do have nightly backups to a raid1 volume ;) ). I am about to build a new Core2Duo box (thanks vista for finding 1000x more things to do in the name of "security") and i will definitely be doing another pair of raptors.
Oh, forgot to mention... Where I live, the cheapest 74GB Raptor is $210 (average price $240), and the 150GB model is $310 the lowest, average $350. I can buy one and a half 150GB models with my salary :D
heh, I've been using 15krpm scsi drives for years...
Be very careful with RAID, particularly RAID 0, which I consider highly dangerous. RAID 0 (striping) doubles the risk of losing all your data, while offering only marginal speed improvements.
1) upgrading a 10,000 RPM boot drive = huge, noticeable performance improvement
2) upgrading from one drive to two drives in RAID 0 = marginal performance improvement, doubles your risk of irrecoverably losing all your data.
It is impossible to recover data from a stripeset when one of the striped drives fails. That is why I heartily recommend option #1 and I strongly discourage people from choosing #2.
PLEASE **READ THIS ENTRY** before choosing RAID 0 (aka striping) or responding to this comment.
If you respond to this comment in a way that indicates to me that you haven't read the above entry, I'll delete your comment without a second thought.
If you're going to use or recommend RAID 0, you better have a highly specific usage scenario in mind. It isn't appreciably faster for 99% of user desktop scenarios. Doubling your risk of drive failure for 1% perf improvement is a very bad deal and it is downright irresponsible to recommend this approach without severe warnings.
I'm going to need a bigger tower.
" 1. small 10,000 RPM boot drive
2. large 7,200 RPM data/apps/games/media drive"
Why not put your apps on the boot drive with the OS?
- It can't be a space reason. My Vista partition with applications included currently has 14.52GB on it. Admittedly, I don't have many applications installed, but 74GB should be MORE than enough for that.
- It can't be a way to make re-installing the OS easier since the various flavors of Windows won't find old applications sitting on a drive during installation during a clean install and a repair (or upgrade) install would find them wherever they are. And, as someone, above, pointed out, with the OS and applications on different drives/partitions, you'd have to make sure you imaged both simultaneously in order to re-image (ghost) the system back to an earlier state.
- It can't be to share the applications across operating systems (assuming compatibility). Wouldn't the configuration files be overwritten with every booting of a different OS and lead to all kinds of problems?
- OS/Application integrity? Once the applications were installed, there'd probably be very little writing in the application's space. Like the OS, most of the writing would be to caches and configuration files. So, putting the applications on a different drive/partition wouldn't make much difference.
- OS/Application drive contention? This is really the only thing I can come up with. But, I'd think that having the applications on the faster drive would more than make up for any drive contention. Of course, with Vista's pre-loading of commonly used applications, your most frequently used stuff (along with parts of the OS) will be cached somewhere on, I assume, the fastest drive. So, regardless of where the applications sleep at night, effectively, they're going to be running from that Raptor.
- Multiple operating systems? It would probably be faster and easier to have an eSATA drive enclosure and keep separate physical disks for each OS instead of fighting with a multi-boot disk. That's somewhat expensive, but I'd say if someone were going to buy a Raptor, re-install the OS, install applications to a non-standard location and maintain that configuration just to shave a couple of seconds off an occasional access here and there, they'd also be willing to spend an additional $150 per OS.
I'm not arguing. I'm just trying to figure out the rationale for this.
"...with Vista's pre-loading of commonly used applications, your most frequently used stuff (along with parts of the OS) will be cached somewhere on, I assume, the fastest drive. So, regardless of where the applications sleep at night, effectively, they're going to be running from that Raptor."
Darn. Vista's SuperFetch caches that stuff to RAM, not disk. Sorry about that. But, the point still holds. Your most frequently used programs will execute from RAM, regardless of where they sleep. But, then again, when the system needs more memory, stuff will be paged out to the page file which, I assume, will be on that fast drive.
Replace the slowest component in a PC with a faster one? And you're surprised that it made a difference?
Come on Jeff, you can do better than that.
I install almost everything on my D: -- just in case I have to do a MS OS "repair", i.e., format and reinstall.
Save your registry file every so often too.
A 10K disk sounds like the ideal place to put the swap file.
Used to use (years ago) Partition Magic to move programs between disks.
I recently used a Raptor drive a little bit and I really noticed the difference by far (compiling kernels, installation of things, etc). I may consider getting a Raptor myself after that. Bare in mind, however, it's not all in the RPM's. A lot of it has to do with seek times. On average in regard to IDE or large SATA disks, and a complete ballpark shot here, seek times are around 9.5ms. The better ones go down to 8ms at best. A Raptor delivers on this as it does something like 4.6ms, which is over half the amount of seek time as compared to the average. Also, a large cache will make a big difference (16MB cache in the Raptor).
Now, if you really want to get some disk speed, how about a 4 SCSI RAID strip? 15,000 RPM's and seek times lower than the Raptor! Haha okay so it's a bit overkill for sure and much more expensive. A Raptor, overall, is probably the best performance-to-price wise.
Actually, if you bought a WD3200ks or WD2500ks (320gb or 250gb) instead of the 150gb Raptor and short-stroke it to 150gb you'll get close to the same performance for _half_ the price.
It would also be quieter and generate less heat.
But don't take my word for it...take Seagate's
The conclusion of this paper is that short-stroking is not worth it, but of course the main reason for that is they're talking about enterprise server SCSI drives, which don't exhibit the same cost differential as the 150gb 10k Raptor vs. a 320gb 7.2k WD3200KS (i.e. half the cost).
Short-stroking is definitely worth considering if you're on a budget.
Interesting, I just picked up a refurbed Dell Precision 380 (for ~GBP280) which came with a pair of Raptor 10,000 rpm 80Gb disks. I configured them as RAID 0 and Vista Ultimate rips. With all the company dev tools on board, office 2007 etc the box feels really snappy and mostly due to the Raptors. Compared to my other company 370 (P3-2.8) running 2003 + usual assortment of dev stuff, it's night and day. I won't be going back to 7200rpm on new builds/boxes again.
Dylan Brams: If we wanted your opinion about what OS to choose then I guess that would've been the topic of the article. Why is that the F/OSS crowd always feel the need to chip in with irrelevant and frankly waste of space comments such as yours.
The tests listed as proof that Raid 0 are either out of date poorly done or both.
As stated in Storage Review by storage review the tests were limited by the CPU.
Those tests were done in 2003-2004 computers have come a long way with faster CPU's that are now dual core, Faster memory and far more refined chipsets as far as RAID is concerned as it is now mainstreem in the performance sector. Even my mothers year old best buy specal is significantly faster than all those test machines in every respect other than hard drive.
You can buy two low latency hard drives like the Hitachi's 60GB and a 320GB storages/data drive for the price of the Raptor.
Sorry but the "you are not good enough" for RAID with no good data to back it up is rather annoying.
10,000 RPM drives? Why? So you can boot faster? Why not just run a
more reliable OS?
It doesn't just improve boot times: _everything_ is faster. I should know - my computer uses a Seagate HDD that spins at 10,000 RPM. Its response time is MUCH faster than my laptop, which has identical stats and a slower hard drive.
Jeff is right - a big secondary disk is required. Files are getting bigger and bigger these days, and you need oodles of storage to back up your music/home videos/other computers.
Based on my experience with the first generation WD 36.7GB Raptors, I disagree entirely.
I build a brand new system a couple years back, and I put 2x36.7GB Raptors in a RAID-0 array, hoping for a blazing fast system. It was margainally faster (measurable by benchmark, not by human observation) then the same configuration with higher end 7200rpm drives.
Next, I tried a single 36.7GB as a boot, the speed and day to day performance was identical to the RAID-0 configuration.
Third, I put the 36.7GB for the page file and temporary files, this was the fastest configuration yet, but only when actually paging. For the price of the two Raptor drives I could have purchased enough RAM to make up the difference in speed, plus a larger then 2x36.7GB single drive which ran quieter.
Skip ahead to when I installed Vista, Vista is substantially faster (to the human, as well as to timed bootups and other operations) on a 400GB Seagate 7200.10 NCQ+TCQ enabled drive then on the RAID-0 pair of Raptors.
The current generation of Raptors supports NCQ, which might make the difference, but I'm not sure I'd invest in them again just to find out.
Lastly, one of my Raptors has just recently started reporting SMART errors. Enough that I don't trust it with anything important, but not enough to get WD to warranty the drive.
As far as noise, they are slightly noisier then the 7200rpm drives, but not substantially. Heat is a major factor though, if you don't have adiquate heating in your case -- Even to touch the Raptors are a lot warmer then any other drive in my system. I've currently got an Antec P180 case, which isolates the drives from the rest of my system and gives them private ventalation, even so, the power supply and two Raptor drives together put out more heat then the entire rest of my system, including two Seagate 400GB 7200.10 drives, and dual/SLI'd video cards.
D'oh... Apparently I can't use a mailto: for my website URL. So sad.
I've too been working on this principle for some time, my first system had two fast small system drives (Quantum Fireball). I've just replaced that 2001 hardware with new stuff, and got a 36 GB Raptor. People double take when I tell them I paid more for a 36 GB drive than a 320 GB drive (my other drive) but the speed is immense. My previous system showed no performance improvement from hardware RAID (0, 1), my new system again has hardware RAID but I haven't used it.
someone mentioned the pain of having to repoint all the installers to the non standard D:\programfiles
you can slip stream this setting in, or alternitively, just manually edit the registry after the install. Since you are getting a new harddrive, and will likely be reinstalling your os onto it, there is no reason not to slipstream your copy of xp.
just add these lines to the winnt.sif file either on the slipstreamed cd, or on the floppydisk's answer file
ProgramFilesDir="C:\My Program Files"
CommonProgramFilesDir="C:\My Program Files\My Common Files"
ProfilesDir="C:\Documents and Settings\"
changing them appropiately.
the beauty of slipstreaming, is that windows uses these right from the get-go while instaling it... for me, program files never existed.
now its only a matter of relocating the swap file, and the temp directory, and violla, you can have a 1.5gig windows install partition.
only very old, or very poorly designed programs have problems.
I'm lazy, so I just buy whatever pre-configured PAP they have on DELL. I don't rightly know why I emphasized those words, but I did.
I'm really glad you brought this up. I'm building a "new" machine as I write this and I've added 2 WD 74GB 10K RPM Drives in Raid 0. This machine is going to serve as my gaming/dev machine and I need all the power I can muster.
If you're building your own machine I have these pearls of wisdom for you.
1. Use a good cooling case (Coolermaster Stacker). If your case does not have good cooling, consider using water cooling (Kits around $100).
2. When choosing HD's, consider buying an external backup device too. You can build your own or buy a pre-made device.
3. Once you have chosen a type of CPU to get and when deciding on the GHZ, get the lowest one which has the highest price difference. For instance, 1.8ghz for 100, 2.0ghz for 120, 2.2ghz for 150, 2.4ghz for 200. In this case, get the 2.2ghz.
4. When picking a graphics card, $200 is the sweet spot. I can't "prove" this empirically but my personal experience suggests this.
5. Get a Large LCD monitor if you can afford it. (eg. Dell 24" LCD). Desktop space savings aside, the screen realestate is astrounding. Its GREAT for development especially when the width of code lines are enormous.
6. Get a floppy. Nobody uses floppies these days...except driver manufacturers (SATA RAID for instance). Vista can use a USB key for drivers when installing (remember F6?) but XP must use a floppy.
7. SATA1.5 or SATA3.0. The choice is simple. Sata 3.0 is the definitive choise. Make sure you Motherboards support this (most new ones do). Also make sure that you remove the jumpers from the drive before installing them since most drives are set to SATA 1.5 by default.
8. You should be able to put together a very nice system for under $2000. If your going over, consider why bleeding edge is so important to you, then seek professional help :-).
9. A flashlight, needle-nose pliers and multi-head screwdriver are necessary tp put a system together.
10. Front Panel Audio/USB/IEEE1394 and power/reset are a pain in the ass to do since the require jumper manipulation. Know your way around these.
11. Gone are the days of wide, white/grey IDE and floppy cables. You can get cables that are slim and small. Use them.
I hope this gives you all some help. Oh and lastly, I propose a addendum to the Programmers Bill of Rights. Something to the effect that any self-respecting programmer MUST build at least 1 pc from scratch in order to get credit for the other bill of right items. :-) Seriously folks, pre-made machines are easy/time savers etc but should not be an option for techophiles.
Good post Jeff
I have been running a RAID 0 raptor (2x74gb) setup for over two years now (backup on the important stuff of course) on my gaming rig and it works great. Biggest issue with creating a raid in Windows XP is (as several of you already mentioned) the need of a floppy drive RAID driver install. I would not recommend anyone to get a RAID 0 setup but for me it was an experiment. Two media disks on top of that as well.
However the memory setup is more important than the disk setup as of today (the SATA2 7200rpm disks are much faster than they used to be). As a gamer, I don't use the page file/swap in Windows and if I run out of memory the game can rather crash than become sluggish (I'm allergic to swapping disks). Today 2GB of ram is on the edge of to little when playing battlefield 2 (project reality mod).
I'd probably be using a Raptor but for the fact that every Western Digital harddrive I've owned (bar, maybe, one) has gone wrong. Including my Raptor. That kind of puts you off buying them.
The discussions on here made me realize something that should be much more obvious.
Computer prices can't be measured by how much you spend on your computer when you buy it--that's meaningless. It's how much you spend on your computers per year.
For some people that may not be much of a difference, but for most of us on here (I'm guessing) you've got a high-end computer for games, a middle of the road computer (or 3) for various server functions and a bunch of parts laying around.
Those who spend $2000 on a computer typically only do so once or twice--after a year they realize that there $2000 computer is the same speed as a brand new $700 computer, just somewhat time-shifted--yet they are stuck with this $2000 computer that is rapidly falling behind all their friends, but at $2000 you don't just toss them after a year, do you?
I tend to start cheap, stick with whatever I have wherever possible and upgrade parts. I'll throw in a new hard drive or video card when something forces me to, but mostly I coast along.
When it gets intolerable, I yank the newer components and put them into a system with a faster CPU (Whatever Fry's has on sale as there $150-250 system of the day), so for me a new PC is rarely more than $400, but always capable of doing whatever I need (because if it's not I upgrade it on the fly).
ps. Ram, CPUs motherboards are virtually never reusable between my PCs, in my experience by the time I'm ready to upgrade there is always a new RAM standard.
Occasionally I choose to wait a year to play a game rather than upgrading.
So far waiting and having a computer that's always equivalent to last year's $1300 computer hasn't hurt me a bit, but then I don't use my computer as a status symbol (there was a post on that a little while back...)
So now a 10k rpm is sounding good--maybe I'll add that to my old POS and see what happens.
Is it really worth to invest so much in a 10000 rpm drive, when hybrids and SSDs, both promising to eliminate seek times altogether, are just around the corner?
I'd say, let's wait a few more months and see what kind of revolutions these new types of drives bring to the storage world once they are mass-produced...
Fun! I just built a machine with almost an identical setup :) One 36GB Raptor with 16MB cache (second generation I guess) for OS and applications and one WD 320GB KS-series for data.
The rest of my machine is surprisingly similar to your new Intel based machine, I use the cheaper mainboard and overclock a bit more aggressively but that's more or less it.
for ultimate performance for a developer machine i recommend putting the whole source tree and build directories on a ramdisk.
use automated scripts to create/restore the ramdisk at startup and to backup the data at shutdown. buy an UPS and use a background task to store a snapshot every x minutes on disk.
I use a RAID array, much faster boots.
And to follow up, RAID0 is actually much faster than one drive. Application performance (WOW zone load time) and boot time both went up significantly. Benchmarks I ran on my system agree, as well.
I keep a third drive which gets nightly backups of all my data, so the halved MTBF is mitigated. I would have gone RAID5, but my chipset (NFORCE4) implemented it in software not hardware, without mentioning that rather significant point.
Sorry, but the myth that RAID0 doesn't help is just that, a myth.
I agree with the boot drive recommendation. But I went even further than a 10K RPM drive, I went with a smallish 36GB fujitsu 15K RPM SCSI drive. If I was building today, I'd look for a 15K RPM SAS drive.
I would add one recommendation for your build regarding the hard drives. That is whatever data drive you buy, buy 2. So you would have 3 drives total. Not for any raid solution but for your backup solution. I keep my second one in a removable drive tray. I run Acronis True Image once weekly to backup my boot and data drives to that backup drive. The removable drive tray allows me to take the backup drive out and cycle the backups if I want or even to place it in my firesafe. You should not build a computer without the backup system built in to the design.
Jeff: Whether you're running a pair of drives as RAID 0 or just a single drive, any disk failure is catastrophic. Even if you run a pair of drives in a mirrored config that's still no guarantee of data integrity if something bad happens.
We've had data on whole RAID-5 arrays on our hosting platform rendered utterly useless and unrecoverable because the RAID controller on the last few hours before failure began silently flipping bits, dropping data here, there and everywhere before we detected that it was in real trouble. When it did eventually fail, the data was useless. This happened three times before the manufacturer admitted that there was a problem with a batch of cards.
Fortunately we have a rolling off-site backup that goes back 28 days and we were back up and running at a point just before the wierdness began.
Even if it is just a desktop, if the data is important then good source control, backup procedures and disaster recovery/business continuity practices are imperative no matter how many disks and mirrors you might have. If you have to go sending disks off to data recovery companies then it serves you damn well right for being sloppy with regard to DR/business continuity planning.
I'm curious how much of the performance improvement is due to isolating the boot drive (OS on one drive, apps on another) rather than the speed improvement of the 10000 RPM drive. How much slower is a small 7200 RPM boot drive and a large 7200 Data drive verses the config above?
My understanding is that the 2 independently used spindles provides the perf improvement for VPC use. Is it possible the same is true for non-virtual use?
Is boot time more important than your daily access to your apps and page file? I mean, on an avergage day, how many times do you boot your system vs launching/exiting different apps?
If you have enough memory to support opened apps, you should use your fast drive for apps and not the OS.
Plus you should consider seek and access times and not just RPM speeds.
RAID-0 Actual Application Time benchmarks from May 2006:
"RAID 0 finally shows up to the party and offers a 7% improvement in the Battlefield 2 scores but otherwise does not offer any tangible benefits, and it even posts slower load times in the Oblivion and Half Life 2 benchmarks."
Now ask yourself: is that worth doubling the risk of losing all your data?
Benches on my machine showed an almost perfect doubling of drive throughput, and timed load times of zones in WOW (using a plugin to time zone loading times) resulted in something like 25%-50% faster loads on zones, and a similar speedup in boot times on XP.
The trouble with the benches you cite is that in things like loading a zone in Quake, only a fraction of the level load time is spent loading the level off the disk, so you end up hitting Amdahl's law. They also compare a 10k drive vs a RAID array of two slower drives.
You also didn't notice what I said, which is that I have no real risk of data failure, since I have automatic backups to a third drive on my system. If I was building this from scratch, it'd be RAID5 all the way, but the marketing on the box of the mobo tricked me, and so I have an ad-hoc RAID5 with a RAID0 array backed up by a single drive.
Also, I highly not recommend buying an off the shelf Dell or whatever at your computer store. The reason they're so cheap is they cut corners where you're not looking. I can't count the number of times I've popped open a premade computer and seen a single RAM slot, or no expansion PCI slots, or only a single IDE connector, or whatever. When my fiancee wanted a new computer, I went crazy trying to find a computer that had everything we wanted (using all the build-your-own websites, like Dell's), and they either couldn't do it, didn't have it, or were grossly overpriced. So I went to Fry's and spent the afternoon building a computer for her. Not top of the line, but at that price-inflection point where things start getting cheap, RAID1 for safety, all came in under a thousand bucks. Runs like a champ.
My computer has a single 80 gig SATA 2 hard drive. No problems to date. It runs a Pentium 1 processor that runs nice and cool. I also make extensive use of memory sticks for temporary storage. They're an excellent substitute for floppies.
I simply like to keep things simple.
I've been looking at upgrading the hard drive in my desktop for a while now. It got pushed to the back burner when I got my laptop, but now I'm looking at this with interest.
Jeff, you mentioned that you use sorbothane and eggcrate foam when mounting your drives...
I was wondering if you could go into a little more detail about how you use these materials to dampen HDD noise and vibration in your rig. Perhaps a new "How-To" article?
I ask b/c I have a Dell Optiplex GX620 w/a pair Seagate (7200rpm) SATAII drives and they vibrate so much that at times it seems the freaking case will fall apart. So I'm looking for some tips to calm these suckers down and bring the box (any my office) back to an acceptable decibel level.
Oh... and for the record - I have the Dell ONLY b/c it is my work machine and it is leased (and a tax deduction).
All of the other boxes in my house were built by yours truly (sans the laptops).
It's funny how most of the commments are just "blowing the same horn". While the one comment that wasn't agreeing with Jeff got completely ignored.
Well here's my 2 cents. This whole article basically advertises the 10k rpm Raptors as the ultimate solution. Which they're not.
Synthetic benchmarks aside, what do you really profit? Maybe your OS boots a few seconds faster and your programs run 10-15% faster? So what? In a matter of days you grow accustomed to the "speed improvement" and you'll (again) want more. I'd say that's normal human response...
First of all, for about the price of one 74GB Raptor you can get a 400GB Barracuda. I can think of better ways of spending my hard-earned cash. I'd say RAID will give you more in terms of data security as well as some speed increment. And you don't have to spend a fortune to have it.. as for myself, I still rely on a single 120GB Barracuda to do everything I need. I backup my data to an external hard drive every two weeks. The odds of two hard drives dying at the same time is very very small. And if there's a fire or a quake, your hardware is toast anyway no matter how many hard drives you got in there :)
As president of Puget Custom Computers, I get a unique perspective on computer products and technology. Our company specializes in selling high performance custom computers, and that naturally brings up the question of RAID often. There is an overwhelming opinion out there that if you have the money and want a blazing fast and stable computer, that you should put your hard drives in RAID. We have known for years that this perception is just flat out wrong, but the problem is that the idea is so widely accepted that it is nearly impossible to convince our customers otherwise. In fact, if we try too hard to talk them out of it, we end up losing the sale! So, should we be selling configurations that we know are flawed, for the sake of making the sale? To be honest, if it comes down to it we will, but not without a fight! This article is just the latest effort in educating the public about RAID.
Heh... Considering my PC is not my main machine, and all it has on it is games where the user data is stored remotely (like warcraft), and because I'm cheap, I'm using:
A Mylex DAC960 triple channel SCSI hardware RAID card I got for $5.
And six 9gb 10k rpm Seagates. (all discarded parts from their old rigs) Two drives per channel, RAID-0. 54gb for $5.
I don't care about the reliability cuz the data on it isn't important, I just care that the system's fast. And it's just plain unbelievable.
Yes I too am running a WD Raptor 10,000 rpm drive. I installed Linux FC6 the day I got the drive and I've felt like I have a new computer ever since! I highly recomend a 10,000 rpm drive to anyone looking to make theyr'e comeputer dangerously fast.
Very true, I put together my new system with a 10k raptor and will never have another drive less than 10k again, until SSD is cheap.
I ghosted my old drive (the fastest 7200 at the time, a Seagate 7200.10) to the 10k raptor and couldn't believe the difference. This is the exact same install and computer, my boot times went from around 30+ seconds to under 15 seconds.
I used a HD silencer to quiet it down, its now even quieter than my old seagate and runs at about 33C, very nice.
Also stay away from the windowed versoin raptor, the raptor x, it runs hotter, and is much louder than the normal raptor.
if you are truly looking for awsome speed thats a bit out of the realm of an actual hard drive... look into I-RAM its a slick idea that im amazed hasn't really been done much with...
the use of volitile ram as a hard drive...
The Raptor drives certainly are the fastest SATA drives you can buy, but the performance margin over a fast 7200 RPM such as the Hitachi 7K500 is pretty minimal. In the performance tests you linked to (e.g. StorageReview) the Raptor had an advantage of 12-21% in single user benchmarks. Since the HDD is just one part of overall system performance, that likely translates into substantially less than 10% overall performance increase as seen by the end user, which is small enough that in most circumstances it is at or below the threshold that a human can reliably detect.
What that means is that other than running a benchmark or doing something that is very IO intensive (and in which the HDD is the performance bottleneck, not RAM, CPU, memory aperture, etc.) a typical person sitting in front of two otherwise identical systems, one with a Hitachi 7K500 and the other with a Raptor X, most people could not tell you which was which. As an example the performance increase for a CPU before people can perceive a difference is over 20% (with apologies to all those people who get so excited when their overclocked systems score 12% higher on benchmarks).
Bottom line - it can't hurt to use the Raptor, as it's an excellent drive and appears to be very reliable. Just don't get caught up in the comments above. It's unlikely that most people, including gamer and power users, will notice much (if any) difference moving from a fast 7200 to a 10K drive, and the likelyhood that the difference will be "dramatic" is vanishingly small. So why do people post comments like that? Look up "confirmation bias" on Wikipedia - people want to believe that their choices have had a very positive effect (the mechanism is not unlike the placebo effect).
is that other than running a benchmark or doing something that is very IO intensive (and in which the HDD is the performance bottleneck, not RAM, CPU, memory aperture, etc.)
Like, say, double-clicking on an application icon to load it from disk into memory? Something most people do dozens of times each day? Disk IO is a significant bottleneck in today's PCs. Yes, you should have as much memory as possible, but you will be inevitably accessing the disk at some point-- and all disk activity is 10-30% faster on a 10,000 RPM drive.
As I said in the entry, I was a skeptic too. I first noticed the difference while using someone else's machine.
Barry, if you don't believe me, buy the drive from some place with a return policy and try it yourself. I don't think you're basing those comments on actual experience.
I myself have been looking into using a 10k Raptor (in the 70GB range) as a boot drive and have everything else stored on the other internal 250GB harddrive.
All backed up to my 500GB external.
The only question I have is how to have my OS on one harddrive and my apps/storage on another.
I'm no programmer, just a mild enthusiast so slipstreaming stuff onto a windows CD i've made myself or some of that other stuff I'm seeing here is completely confusing me. I'm set on using a 10k raptor as my boot and a 250GB as storage but what boot and storage entail I'm not completely sure.
What would the problem be ? When you install a program install it onto the larger harddrive, when you store your documents store it on the larger drive. There is nothing saying you MUST use the predefined folders.
I would probbaly try and keep all programs under the faster drive, you want those to load fast.
If you want to move "my documents" and all that it is really very simple, to move my documents you simply right click and select properties and then select to move it under one of the tabs.
I find this blog very interesting as I'm purchasing parts for a new machine. My plan was to use 5 500GB SATA drives in a RAID 5 array and a Raptor boot drive. The only reference I've seen to this idea was that is it very slow w/o an expensive controller. The motherboards I am considering all have raid 5 controller built in and provide 6 SATA data connections so I'm assuming it can handle the load.
Anyone have any thoughts about this idea?
That is Perfect, I perfectly agress what you say. In fact, I think the same way. Especially when your OS is Window. Sense there are a lot of stupid app and virus that mess up your system itself. Taking the time to fix them, is way long then just reinstall the system. And Really it will be even better if the 7200 HDD are at Enterprise Level. That will be perfect. Yes, NOISE will be a Problem, but there are always way to redure them. If your system is not a mbtx and have enough space for AT Least two HDD, go for it! too bad my system is mBTX which only have one slot for one HDD (Poor ME)I Will go for enterprise HDD because it is better for photographer like me. (I don't want my photo to be lose)
The Raptors are good disks. The reason they are good is beyond the sipndle speed. They are in fact SCSI disks with a SATA interface grafted on, much like (most of) the current crop of 7,200rpm SATA are IDE (or PATA if you prefer) with a SATA interface.
The reliability of the drives is much higher, the seek times far higher. These two are much more significant than the spindle speed IMHO. The disks also have other functions which seem to be missing from other disks.
A lot has been written about various simple RAID forms which is mis-information. For example comparing a RAID0 array with different types of disks is misleading (though perhaps makes sense on a cost basis). A stripe utilising two Raptors will be quicker than a single disk for I/O operations. I have run both on my home workstation for some time. Potential data loss doesn't bother me as I have an additional (non-Raptor) SATA disk for data storage. I wouldn't touch a software RAID controller where performance is an issue, it also leeches processor performance and lacks caching. Likewise I wouldn't use a controller for RAID5 unless it was a quality item (someone mentioned hardware controllers being tied to a single motherboard/controller, a decent controller will allow a state back-up which can be transfered to another controller).
Whilst I'm at it RAID1 isn't just about security, your read times with this array will be significantly quicker a single disk. Write times are, of course, the same. Once the array has degraded you can continue to use the remaining disk until you are able to recreate the array which makes life much easier (you can even just buy two new big disks for the array and transfer the old data if you are lacking a warranty).
Previously I ran a pair of IDE Maxtors in a stripe and then swapped back to operating them as two individual disks. Though the stripe on these disks was great for large write operations it wasn't much better for general usage.
So what different - well the RAID controller I ran was very cheap, its controller pretty poor and hampered by the interface (PCI). I am also of the opinion that IDE disks are not suited to RAID arrays with their high seek times.
My company has deployed anumber of server platforms utilising large (non-Raptor) based RAID5 arrays and almost exclusively their performance is shocking. Replace their drives with a smaller number of Raptors and the performance increases massively.
I should also add that the failure rate on the SATA disks was aproximately 50%. They would typically fail in batches of 4-6 per server. Even running a hot-spare this was pretty disasterous as you can imagine. We have yet to see a Raptor failure.
This is a very extreme example but does perhaps give an idea of the relative drives reliability under heavy useage.
In short RAID0 isn't as bad as it's made out. It is more suited to the Raptors (IMHO) as they offset some of the risks whilst improving apon the advantages. There is a risk, but there's also a pay-off!
well I have use the raptors 10K SATA drives for OS drives in Unix Servers and I will never use a nother one! In 2 different boxs bought 3 months apart and both drives went down. Leaveing two big Database boxes down. I am staying with IBM drives. I have never had one of over 100 of them go down. 2 drive and 2 bad with WD !!
I am plenty experienced with windows hardware and software development in most areas except am a complete newbie for raid setup though I understand the purpose and pitfalls of each configuration just fine.
I have an MSI Platinum P6N with 2G, Intel E6600 and three Seagate 320G Barracudas and would like to run RAID1 on the boot drive so I can regularly hot swap out the drive in the tray which is part of the mirror and haul it offsite for a backup and then insert the previous drive that was offsite and want it to be brought up to date as a bootable drive for the next time I want to swap backups.
1 - better to run hardware or software raid1 on a Vista system of this type? Why? Any particularly good raid links you can recommend?
2 - using a drive hotswap tray I plan to install, can I pull one of the mirrored drives and insert another and expect the newly inserted drive to be updated to the current mirror status automatically or must you normally run some utilitiy to do this?
3 - I read that older nVidia nForce chipsets had to have the OS reinstalled if you turned on RAID1 for the boot drive. I have the nForce 430i chipset and am wondering if they fixed this problem or must I plan to image the OS back using Acronis and will that even work the same as if I was still using just the one boot drive?
4 - can you in fact boot off the RAID1 partner drive if the original boot drive fails or you have to go get the backup drive and configure to boot the backup drive not part of a RAID configuration?
More and more I am becoming a fan of software (OS-level) RAID, because the existing motherboard implementations are so sketchy, differ per manufacturer and version, and they're subject to lots of driver issues. At least the operating system RAID solutions are consistent and repeatable, and supported as retail products (in Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows server).
Plus the motherboard implementations are usually quite minimalistic, doing most of the work in the driver software, which means they're no faster than the software solutions anyhow. You'd have to buy a fancier external RAID enclosure, or an internal RAID add-on card, to get true hardware level RAID anyway.
I'm a convert and especially for VmWare it makes a huge difference. I use dual core xeons at work but with only a single disk it's painful... just made the request for Raptors... I feel the need... you know the rest! :-)
Question: I was always taught that you get the best performance by placing the swap file and OS on different drives. If you use the 10k drive for OS/Apps and the large/slower drive for data, where does the swap file go? On the fast drive or the 'non-OS' drive? TIA
I have a 74Gb Raptor as my boot drive with all my apps in a new HP desktop. It runs circles around my last machine. My data drive is another Raptor, a 150GB. To back that up I use a third Raptor in an available iternal bay. Because I have money to burn, I bought a WD 1 terabite My Book Pro edition and swapped out the original equipment 500 GB SE2 drives for 2, 150 GB Raptors. The My Book runs the drives in RAID "0" as an external drive with Firewire 800 interface. I wanted to see how fast an external drive could get.(without buying one of those big RAID boxes) The external My Book with the Raptors running RAID "0" seems to match or beat the internal Raptor connected SATA internally. Most files are stored or recalled in just a blink of an eye. Large file transfers, like my monthly "Whole Disc" backups progress at lighteneing speed. I will never go back to 7200RPM. I just wish the My Book Pro edition had an eSATA interface. I'm about to outgrow the 150 GB limit on the Raptor and I need the 300GB volume of a pair of Raptors in RAID "0" internally. I guess it's time for an internal raid card. By the way I have purchased my Raptors at FAR less than the suggested retail price during rebates and sales at a local MicroCenter store. I now own 5 Raptor drives. I've never had a moments trouble out of any of them.
Must admit, I'm surprised we havnt picked up on another issue here which is rather interesting. I was considering doing a Raid 0 with 4 identical harddrives (600GB 150x4). I purely want to hear thoughts on this before I perhaps put this in my next machine. As far as price goes...I dont want to sound like a rich prick but...its so negligable its a laugh. Perhaps from the time the first post was put up to the present, prices have greatly adjusted. Anyways, I appreciate all help and thoughts. Thank you.
I am close to the above setup (using an OCd, non dual core AMD 3200+).
Just replaced a 7200 SATA 150 Samsung drive, with a 1000 74gb Raptor (still running around 140$ btw). Ive had a hard time telling the difference, is there anyway to double check and make sure the drives running at 10k? Is it even possible for it to run slower than advertised?
I ran aquamark3 on the old setup and new. Only difference is the hard drive. The 7200 shows much higher marks.
This thread has been an interesting read. Based on my experience I agree that 10k drives will make a desktop much faster. What I disagree with are many of the opinions about RAID. I've been writing software for 25 years and have done lots of sysadmin/dba work within that time. RAID came out in the late 80's and had an initial cool factor to it. Something about all those heavy drives whirring away gave a (often false) sense of security.
My experience is that no RAID level is completely secure from failure. If you think 2 drives won't fail at the same time then you just haven't experienced it - yet. Especially when using identical drives which are subjected to the same read/write patterns and the same physical climate. To make matters worse, subsequent drives will often fail during a rebuild. Rebuilding causes a lot of stress on an aging set of drives. In short, when RAID goes bad it will often get worse before you get things back to normal.
Your best bet for security is periodically backing up to an offline drive. RAID will unlikely give any speed advantage until you fork out the cash ($300+) for a good controller. Good controllers have CPU's that take care of remapping bad areas, automatic fail-over to hot backup drives and checksum and parity calculations. They also have lots of RAM for I/O caching.
It's tempting to run RAID when your new motherboard has it built in. Keep in mind that RAID is only on your motherboard because it's a feature of the chipset being used. It's part of the same chipset that provides SATA so it's included in the board specs. This is primarily a marketing gimmick.
Built in RAID is cheap, buggy and very risky to run. In establishing any RAID configuration you should always consider the risk of a controller failure. Especially at the temperatures that Southbridge chipsets run at (which provides SATA functionality). When a controller fails, don't expect to take your drives to a different controller and recover your data. Controllers are very often incompatible. This is even true of high priced add on cards. When purchasing a server with RAID, I've learned to always buy a spare controller of the same model. By the time the controller fails an exact replacement may not be available anymore.
Software RAID is a sure way to slow down your system. It injects an additional layer for any disk I/O and requires the CPU to calculate parity. It can also prevent you from using the disk space on a different operating system. For example, using software RAID in Linux prevents you from mounting the partitions in Windows. Conversely, a normal ext2 or ext3 partition can be mounted and accessed in Windows.
If you decide to run a RAID level where drives can be rebuilt (5/6/etc) then make sure you have a spare nearby. There is no purpose of having rebuild capability if you can't afford another drive to get yourself back to 100%.
In summary, don't run RAID on a desktop or workstation with the idea that you're getting better security or performance. You won't. If you do run RAID, buy a quality controller with lots of RAM/quick CPU/quick I/O. It's also a good idea to pay for a support contract.
If you actually want boot speed, use a solid-state disk.
Also, does anyone know what the acoustic differences are between the Cheetah drives and Raptor drives? (Roughly speaking)
What do you guys think about using SAS Cheetah drives, and connecting them to 3gb/s SATA controllers via a SAS to SATA adapter? What I am interested in is the idea of getting two small Cheetah drives (connected via adapter to SATAII interface) and setting them up in RAID 0, and then setting up my two 7.2k data hard drives (they're identical drives) in RAID 1.
Could this provide better performance than if the Cheetah's were exchanged with Raptors?
Here's the link to the adapters I found: http://www.cs-electronics.com/sas-adapters.htm
Actually if you happen to have SCSI on your machine - like I do on my two server boxes. I'd recommend looking for second hand 10K/15K SCSI drives. I've scored them for much less than even the smallest new 10K SATA drives (although there may be better deals to be had as the Raptor drives start having an aftermarket).
For main storage, my machines use hardware RAID. Even an 'old' card like my 3ware 7500-8. Even using old 7200 RPM PATA drives it gets sold performance under RAID-5.
For example my 10K Cheetah does buffered reads (hdparm -t) at about 37MB/s. My seven drive RAID-5 gets 150MB/s.
I've read your discussion with great interest. I'm about to put together a system for professional photography and video editing. (I'm considering a Dell XPS 720 with a Q6600 Quad-Core processor, 768MB Nvidea GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card, and a 24" Ultrasharp Dell monitor.) I've read that 2 hard drives are always recommended for NLE Video Production -- one for the OS, and the other for the large video files. There's no question that I'll make my Boot Drive a 160GB 10,000 RPM Raptor! My question is: should I consider having the second drive with the large video files also be a Raptor, or is that over-kill? Would a larger 72,000 RPM Drive slow things down when doing the editing on the large video files or do those files run from RAM during the editing? And -- should I install the apps (Adobe Photoshop and Premiere) on the Boot Drive, or the Second Drive along with the files? You advice would be greatly appreciated!
That SDD vs HDD, thats available in desktop hard drive?
Dell's XPS desktop series offers a 160GB - WD Raptor 10000RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache (for the boot drive) as well as several Seagate 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache drives ranging from 320GB to 750GB. They also offer several RAID drives ranging from 320GB up to 2TB, including at least one 320GB Performance RAID 0 (2 x 160GB WD Raptor SATA 1.5Gb/s 10,000 RPM HDDs).
I do not know if any of these drives are SDD.
I'm personally holding off a couple years for SSDs to get down to a reasonable price. They promise to be very snappy.
I'm running a sata raid0 as my boot. That seems fast enough for me....
If I had money to burn my agenda would go towards a Mac with a Linux dual boot. I do like Jeffs setup tough. No need to complicate things. Negligible optimization is no big deal. It seems more like a "Mine is bigger than yours" issue. I'm running ancient hardware and couldnt care less about whether or not I lose data. Linux Kernel on a P3 1ghz 384MB ram and satisfied. Two 40g HDDs with Linux on one and an XP Pro Vista Ultimate hacked Hybrid on the other. Virtual XP pro machine on Linux. All parts are guts from other PCs. I surf, run the virtualmachine and listen to tunes just fine. Upgrades for me usually come in the softwe variety. I guess I'm easy to please. I might upgrade to a P4 sometime soon but meh. I may even upgrade to a whole new updated rig but it'll be cheap with no raid setup. Maybe fast enough for WOW but just to say whats up to Leeroy and take his armour. Other than that. Whatev. My supercomputer is in my brains.
Used to have a IBM 10000 rpm scsi and a Maxtor 15000 rpm scsi P4 2.8 Oclocked to 3.2. AIW ATI radeon hooked up to 2 monitors and my TV and stereo system. It was fun to setup and benchmark but I moved and got rid of it.
Try solid state drives and you will sh*t your pants. Very expensive though.
I agree disk speed is the bottleneck. In the past 5 years CPU speed up ~400+%, Number of Cores up 100%, memory speed up ~300%, the about of main memory up ~400+% and Disk Speed still at 7200 RPMs for desktops and 5400 RPMs for laptops. Seek time hasn't made great strides either.
I recently upgraded my 2002 800MHz 256 MB Compaq Evo N600c laptop to a 1.8 GHz, Dual core AMD X2, 2GB HP dv9000 laptop. I did this because the old one was a little slow running our web site demos when there was no Internet access available and it had to run IIS, SQL Server, etc, and the web site's applications.
The net result was that the new one was only marginally faster. All data originates on the disk, and CPU speed, caching, and huge main memory only means that you get through computing quicker but still have to wait for the next piece of data for same amount of time. That wait time is main factor for all but small compute bound applications.
If the price wasn't so high I'd investigate 15K drives. But at about 2X the 10K drive is a great performance enhancement. I agree with the "you goto have two drives" theory. But I want the second drive for storing my backups on. The hell with RAID. I want real backups. For that I use and external 500 GB drive today.
I couldn't agree more about the importance of a fast hard drive.
When I built my new computer back in 2005, I decided to buy two 74GB 10k Raptors and put them in RAID 0 (for my OS and programs) along with two larger 7200RPM Seagate drives for data storage. Needless to say it cost a small fortune, but it was worth it.
The performance difference between 7200 and 10000 is immediately noticeable when it comes to starting programs, loading game levels, doing installations, and other tasks that do lots of seeking and little reading/writing.
You know how your laptop is always slower than your desktop, even when you have the same specs? It's due to the hard drive. Laptop drives run at 4200 RPM or 5400 RPM. I remember when I went from 5400 RPM to 7200 RPM for the first time. MAJOR difference in performance.
Right now, I still have only 1 GB of RAM and I can't recall when I last defragmented, and it's still fast. I only wish there were bigger 10K drives available (or 15K drives) so I could upgrade.
On the subject of WD Raptors: I couldn't agree more! What a difference!
Worth the expense!
If you do not opt for 2 drives and you can only afford a single 7,200rpm drive...Partition it!!! from 20%-80% to 40%-60% for system-data. If you game you will need more space on the system partition. do not bother keeping data on a 10,000rpm drive, youll notice your programs taking advantage of the faster seek times more so than opening and saving docs...
This way if your OS install gets messed up to the point of a reformat or reimage all your personal docs (the ones you care about, mp3s, avis, jpegs, program install files, etc) will be waiting for you on the data partition...and you can keep a clean system image (by acronis, norton ghost etc) on the data partition aswell so you dont need to rely on finding the external copy of your system image.
Actually, if you'll run an OS that never needs defragmenting, and is immune to the million Microsoft virus/trojans/Worms/Bots/exploits, even the 4200 rpm laptop drive boots/runs 'faster'!
Another fun distro is vixta.org (Fedora Core 8 based liveCDrom)! Get the look and 'feel' of Vista, without the vulnerabilities, nagware, trialware!
FREE Vixta.org is totally immune to the Microsoft virus/trojans/Worms/Bots/exploits, without having to run 7 different prevention programs! Download the ISO, burn image to CD, reboot.
Leaves no trace on the hard drive, or, can be installed with a click on the icon.
GREAT POST! I learned this years ago when I upgraded my 4,200 rpm laptop drive to 7,200 rpm--WOW! A new machine!
RAID1 is totally worth it, if you have extra money--much faster yet and redundant!
RAID0 or 0+1 (striping) is not worth it for the boot drive. Striping is best with large sequential files, not efficient at all for small random access. Some speed improvement, but not near RAID1. RAID5 is an even worse choice and requires hardware to be good. Very slow writes.
If you buy a second drive, either go RAID1 or make it a separate 7,200 rpm data drive. Partitioning is great for a single drive.
And a big *WHATEVER, PAL!* to all the Windows haters out there. We all recognize the strengths of *nix and the failures of Windows, but it is a two-way street! Otherwise *nix would be predominant. Make it easy for my mom to install and use, make lots of off-the-shelf software available, and drivers for all the hardware out there--THEN I will be right with you. I hate M$ as much as anyone (and use Firefox), but then there is reality.
Interesting post. After seeing benchmarks for new 7200 RPM drives like the Seagate 7200.10 though, I wonder how much of this is valid, and how much of the performance gains are seen by upgrading boot from a slow 7200 RPM drive to a Raptor.
Outside of work, I still consider RAID mirrors a waste of money, and RAID striping a questionable performance improvement over independent drives that make you lose a lot of portability. RAID gets you the ability to rebuild an array if a disk goes bad with little downtime, at the cost of requiring additional drives with the same performance characteristics as your existing drives. Odds are, you were going to run to Fry's and spend the afternoon tinkering with your box if one drive went bad anyway.
I'm about to put together a system for professional photography and
video editing. (I'm considering a Dell XPS 720 with a Q6600 Quad-Core processor, 768MB Nvidea GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card, and a 24"
Ultrasharp Dell monitor.) I've read that 2 hard drives are always
recommended for NLE Video Production -- one for the OS, and the other
for the large video files. There's no question that I'll make my Boot Drive a 160GB 10,000 RPM Raptor!
Mike, I went for a Quad, with 2 raid0 7200rpm drive, an Xps, yeah. (xps 420)
Right, I am playing mp3, have an open windows virtual machine, a java ide etc.
Here's the output of my hdparm right now:
~$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda
Timing cached reads: 7348 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3677.64 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 186 MB in 3.02 seconds = 61.65 MB/sec
Please note that Ubuntu won't install easily with Sata Raid, you'll have to follow some tutorial or opt for linux software raid (and erase your partitions).
Great machine by the way. (only unworking thing: hauppage win-tv tuner)
Outside of work, I still consider RAID mirrors a waste of money
If you're spending $1,500+ for a box with RAID capable motherboard, why is it a waste to spend another $150 or less for a second drive. A RAID1 mirror will do far more for the speed of your machine than $300+ for faster CPU and RAM! I've seen Windows boot in just a few seconds with RAID1.
This comment particularly interested me:
Built in RAID is cheap, buggy and very risky to run. In establishing
any RAID configuration you should always consider the risk of a
controller failure. Especially at the temperatures that Southbridge
chipsets run at (which provides SATA functionality). When a
controller fails, don't expect to take your drives to a different
controller and recover your data. Controllers are very often
incompatible. This is even true of high priced add on cards. When
purchasing a server with RAID, I've learned to always buy a spare
controller of the same model. By the time the controller fails an
exact replacement may not be available anymore.
In summary, don't run RAID on a desktop or workstation with the idea
that you're getting better security or performance. You won't. If
you do run RAID, buy a quality controller with lots of RAM/quick
CPU/quick I/O. It's also a good idea to pay for a support contract.
Jeffro seems to be suggesting that the reliability of the controller is a reason not to use RAID, though where he gets his MTBFs on souhbridge chips is under question. In any case SATA raid PCI cards are $30 so buy three and you have double redundancy.
The simple fact is that if you mirror your data, in a RAID1 setup, you DO have better data security (average drive MTBF is 1.2 million hours). It is quite unlikely that both drives will fail at the same time. However, it is important not to rely on RAID alone - three words: OFF SITE BACKUPS.
I FIND MYSELF TRAPPED IN AN ONLINE STORE WITH 2 RAPTORS IN MY SHOPPING CART. I AM GOING INSANE!! ;-)
Yesterday I wanted a decent upgrade to a Linux C++ Dev machine (not my primary windows dev machine). Which is now (for the linux machine) an athlon xp1.3ghz + 1GB RAM, 40GB 4200RPM snooze drive. Just to do some simple gcc stuff. I wanted to do some opengl hacking.
- So I bought a Nvidia geforce6200 64bit AGP slowmo gfx card for ~29euros (reasonable)
- After which I bought a Core2Duo Board + CPU + 2gigs of RAM ( IT SOMEHOW HAPPENED! I'm not guilty)
- After which I bought a normal 320gb sata drive
- After which I bought a midi atx case + 550w power supply
- After which I bought a fanless Sparkle Geforce 8800GT 512MB because I really want to hack in OpenGL 2.0
(At that point I decided I am actually building my new primary development machine and just put the geforce6200 into the old athlon machine)
AND NOW AFTER ALL THESE EXPENSES
-- I CAN'T CONTROL MYSELF --
(you do this on purpose, right?)
I WILL BUY THOSE FRIGGIN 2 DRIVES
AND PUT THEM INTO A RAID-0 CONFIG.
Question being has anyone else seen the 160gb sata II raptor #WD1600ADFS I've only seen it on ebay and clubit (not even WD has it listed) am I dreaming or is it real and if it is a raptor is it new or is it just a jumper mod?
My system is average.
RAM: 4GB @ 800MHz
SLI Mobo w. one nVidia 8800GT 512MB
500GB 7.2k RPM
160GB 10K RPM
(forgot to tell Dell to put OS on this drive ARGH!!!!!)
Oh well it'll make a good scratch disk for PS.
Decided against RAID0 because of bad experiences before.
Whole system (Dell XPS 630) cost me $1190 USD (incl. shipping, taxes, 1yr on site tech support, 1 yr parts warrnty)
A decent buy I thought.
I built my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) a couple years ago. I'm running a pair of 74GB Raptors in Raid 0 as my primary system drive. Not only do I run XP, but all my audio apps on the Raid pair. I used to store my massive sample banks libraries on my 320gb 7200rpm drive, but find that the load speed and performance is much better with everything lumped onto the raid twins - I'm simply using the 320gb for storage at this point.
My system seriously kicks @$$. I load a 3GB sample bank into RAM in less than 10 seconds. I've never had a glitch, hiccup or error of any kind. Rock freakin' solid. One day I decided to try and kick my DAW's @$$ just for fun. I stopped counting at 250+ tracks of 24 bit 48khz audio. Beyond that, it doesn't really matter anymore.
At this point, the only thing I need to upgrade is the processor from AMD 4200+ to a new Quad-core. I decided to spend the money and buy on the bleeding edge two years ago, and it has served me well.
I'm never going back to 7200rpm - even on my entertainment / surfing PC.
I use a 74Gb Raptor as my main drive with a 150Gb Raptor as my data drive. And now HDD's are so very cheap, I probably have about 3TB plugged into my PC at any one time, so backup is not an issue.
I noticed a significant difference in running VM from the new Raptor data drive over my previous 7200 disk. And the whole machine flies (spec is high with 4x processor, 768Mb NVidia grfx and 2Gb of very fast RAM) but the point being made here still stands: go for the faster drive until SSD's are more widely available. They are only an interim product but one worth investing in.